The Wary Student, Introduction: In Search Of…

Last year, tdaxp hosted SummerBlog ’06. Back-to-back for more than a month, four different series explored different parts of our world. Redefining the Gap critically examined the theories of Thomas P.M. Barnett, while Coming Anarchy looked at the genius of that weblog. Perspectives and Peers examined a theory of rational development, and finally Variations of the OODA Loop wondered if perhaps rational decision-making was maladaptive.

This year, an equivalent amount of work went into one project, which in turned merged two others: my examination at Wary Guerrillas and proposal to go in search of wary students.

This series, The Wary Student will examine how cognitive load impacts altruism. But this isn’t your grandmother’s “altruism.” Rather, cooperative behavior can be kind (helping another), cool (rejecting a bad deal), or downright vindictive (digging into your reserves to punish a cheater).

The results may surprise you.


The Wary Student, a tdaxp research project
1. Abstract
2. Cognitive Load
3. Cooperative Behavior
4. Method
5. The Experiments
6. Hypotheses
7. Main-Effect Results
8. Interaction-Effect Results
9. Discussion
10. Future Research
11. Bibliography

Styles of 5GW

Over at Dreaming 5GW, Purpleslog imagines a staccato 5GW:

Where it different from the fictional portrayals, is that I think they will want to make many small actions instead of a big attention generating move. This will allow a bit of a feedback on the techniques used. Also, small actions will get noticed less and are easier to conceal.<

I like the post a lot, and woudl commet if D5GW‘s spam filtering system would allow me to. So instead I’ll give props from this blog, and note with pleasure how this is a true variation on a concept originally written about at tdaxp (see Section VI: A Dream of 5GW.

The blogosphere has been incredibly kind to 5GW theory — perhaps the greatest burst of work on the “generations of warfare” framework since 4GW theory was introduced more than a decade ago.

Loss

Mark C Chu-Carroll, a doctor of computer science, a Google engineer, and a blogger, lost his father this weekend:

My father died on sunday.

To some degree, I’m still in shock. Even though we knew it was coming, when something like this happens, no amount of preparation really helps. He’d been sick with an antibiotic resistant infection since November, and on thursday, refused to let them give him a feeding tube. So we really knew, almost to the day, when he was going to die. And yet, when it finally happened, it was still a shock.

We buried him yesterday. I didn’t speak at the funeral, because I couldn’t. Every time I try to talk about him, my voice just shuts down. But my fingers don’t. So if you’ll bear with me, I want to say a little bit about my father.

He died of an antibiotic resistant infection. As long as I live, I’ll never be able to forgive the Doctors who took care of him. The illness that killed him started with an infection in his little toe. Due to a spectacularly stupid series of errors – where basically repeated infections with antibiotic resistant bacteria were not treated properly – he developed antibiotic resistant pneumonia, which is what ended up killing him.

He was 80 years old. He was an amazing person. And he will be missed.

My prayers go to Mark and his family.

Brave New War, Part II: Systems Disruption and Open Source Warfare

The last two chapters of the second section of John Robb’s new book, Brave New War: The Next State of Terrorism and the End of Globalization, begin to seriously introduce the concepts Robb first introduced on his global guerrillas and personal weblogs. The first of these chapters, Systems Disruption, focuses on his main idea that the best way for small forces to battle states is to attack them at brittle parts of the strongest component: their infrastructure. Following that, Open Source Warfare compares a method of warfighting to the popular free and open source software movement that is behind the Firefox web browser.


Brave New War, by John Robb

“Systems Disruption” is a short chapter. The first pages recite various economic facts which are not under dispute. The parts that are questionable are not factually wrong but are open to question. The book uses the phrase “global guerrillas” again without providing a definition, though “systempunkt” is defined earlier in the chapter. Additionally, twice (pgs 103 and 110) I was struck that if these tactics is so open, obvious, and cheap, why are they not seen?

A clue can be found on page 107, where Brave New War emphasizes that global guerrillas should not aim for the destruction of the state.

Complete collapse would create total war… A complete urban or country takedown would prompt the state to launch a total war. This is a type of warfare that global guerrillas are not prepared or able to fight… By keeping the level of damage below what would be considered fatal to the state, total war is avoided

This may be the most important paragraph of the book. Global guerrillas are nuisances who can aim for nothing better. They, like thugs of all sorts, can kill and maim. But they are not as important or dandgerous are foreign states or internal insurgencies.

The next chapter, “Open Source Warfare,” is full of fun ideas. I covered similar ground in my posts, “The Unix Philosophy” and “Audacity.” Likewise, the concept of sematectonic (“Environmental conditions influence the behavior of all actors in the system…”) appears important for SecretWar/5GW. “Open Source Warfare” is an offensive chapter that introduces these important ideas to a large audience.

Brave New War, Part II: Global Guerrillas: The Long Tail of Warfare Emerges

This is my second initial reactions post on Brave New War: The Next Stage of Terrorism and the End of Globalization, by John Robb. The second section is called “Global Guerrillas,” and contains three chapters: “The Long Tail of Warfare Emerges,” “Systems Disruption,” and “Open Source Warfare.”

This post focuses on the fourth chapter of the book, “The Long Tail of Warfare Emerges.”


Brave New War, by John Robb

The Long Tail of Warfare Emerges” is a split effort, containing solid counterinsurgency with a definition (I think) of “global gurreillas.” The solid section covers “Paramilitaries,” or what could be thought of as an Extended Systems Adminitration Force. Both loyalty militias and security contractors are discussed in this section that runs from page 86 to 89. Sadly, the section ends with one of the one-way claims that detract from Robb’s work generally:

For every local or global failure of nation-states to address critical problems, corporate participants in general and PMCs in particular will continue to gain ground. It’s inevitable

Note in the above quote non-national states/devolutionary possibilities are not discussed (particularly gauling for an American author, who should be readily familiar with 50 quasi-sovereign states that are not nations), and that no possibility of states gaining ground on corporate service-providers is mentioned.

Right on the heels of that quote is a discussion of “Third Generation Gangs” theory,” whose quixotic use of “generation” may be of interest to 4GW and 5GW theorists.

When I first heard of the “generational gangs” concept, I wrote:

Sounds a bit buzzwordy.

“1 GEN” gangs are suppliers of public goods, mainly security. They earn a profit through taxation.

“2 GEN” gangs are suppliers of private goods, mainly drugs. They earn a profit selling these goods to customers.

“3 GEN” gangs would appear to be a sub-contractor of “1 GEN” gangs. For instance, a number of brothers who join a “1 GEN” gang together would, presumably, be in their own “3 GEN” gang among themselves.

Thus, as I think the “global guerrilla” idea itself is a bit buzzwordy, I was pleased to see that Robb writes “Third generation gangs fit the model of global guerrillas perfectly” (93). Right or wrong, at least I’m consistent in my criticism.

Robb ends the section describing global guerrillas — these subcontractors of gangs — thusly:

One thing that these hundreds, growing to thousands, of global guerrilla groups have in common is an affinity for systems disruption.

Personally, I think that one thing these gangs have in common with each other — and indeed, with all gangs — is a desire to make money. What Robb is adding to the this “3rd Generation Gang” format without mention is a belief that global guerrillas are realpoliticians, unconcerned with money except as it relates to power. Humans are so perfect though. Global guerrillas, like all men, are vulnerable to greed, pride, and vanity. Thus all angelic dreams — utopias and dystopias — are crushed on the rocks of reality. The System has cash, the State has cash, and for all their petty nuisances gangs make more money by free-riding on the State than by fighting it.

Good for the State and the System. Bad for anarchy and “global guerrillas.”

Brave New War, Part I: The Future of War is Now

I started reading Brave New War: The Next Stage of Terrorism and the End of Globalization, by John Robb. I’ve defined global guerrilllas before, a topic John Robb often blogs about, so I am interested in what he has to say.


Brave New War, by John Robb

This post is not a review of the book, but rather contains my initial thoughts on the first three chapters of the book. Chapter 1, The Superempowered Competition, presents his theory that due to technology and globalization the forces of disorder are more individually powerful than ever. Chapter 2, Disorder on the Doorstep, presents an introduction to 4GW and the generations of warfare. Chapter 3, A New Strategic Weapon, focuses on systems disruption as a key to victory.

The last few pages of Part I (particularly, 60-63) are well written. Robb presents a realistic summary of the partial victory options that remain for the United States in Iraq.

They are the highlight of the book so far

Brave New War averages something like 1 false or questionable fact per page in the early part of the book. These range from strange statements (“Unlike previous insurgencies, the one in Iraq comprises seventy-five to one hundred small, diverse, and autonomous groups of zealots, patriots and criminals alike,” page 2 — is Robb implying that all previous disorder has bene uniform?), to undefined terms (especially “global guerrillas” and “bazaar of violence” on page 15, though hopefully these will be rectified by the end of the book), to questionable assertions (consistent with what he was written before, Robb denies that al Qaeda is totalitarian and implies that al Qaeda leaders are free from the normal human impulse to centralize power that characters most previous revolutionary groups — see page 18 for the first occurance of this).

So far, Brave New War would be better written if it refrained from claiming things were “new” when they weren’t. On page 27, for example, Robb claims that “Unlike early guerrilla wars of the twentiy century, the guerrilla wars we saw in the latter half of the twentieth century were substantially harder to defeat due to a combination of superpower sponsorship and innovation in method… As we progressed into the 1980s and the cold war faded, smaller states began to adopt the use of proxies to fight their enemies as well.” Of course, the analysis falls apart completely when one remembers Britain was in a long counterinsurgency against German-backed Afrikaners in South Africa, that only “ended” with the establishment of an independent South Africa, nominally loyal to the Crown, but ruled by the former insurgents.

I’m writing this in the floor of Chicago O’Hate, as I wait for my flight to be re-scheduled. Presumably, I’ll be done by Part II by the time I land.

Review of "Before the Dawn" by Nicholas Wade

The front cover of New York Times-reporter Nicholas Wade’s new book, Before the Dawn, contains a quote by E.O. Wilson: “By far the best book I have ever read on humanity’s deep history.” I couldn’t agree more. Before the Dawn is more informative than Nature via Nurture, more readable than The Blank Slate, and proves (contra The Emperor’s New Clothes) that popularizations of population genetics don’t have to be deceitful and revolting.


The Lost History of Our Ancestors

Before the Dawn dwells on several major events in the human story: separation from chimpanzee-ancestors, the end of seperate sex hierarchies with the introduction of pair bonding, physically modern human, behaviorally modern human, and socially modern humans. From a founder population fo 150, the first behaviorally modern human beings who left Africa at the Gate of Grief would conquer three other human species (Neanderthals, Erecti, and Hobbits) and within fifty thousand years spread an African species all over the face of the world.

Every chapter in Before the Dawn is worth reading, but several stand out as some of the best in the history of scientific nonfiction: “Genetics & Genesis” outlines the author’s plan of attack, “Genesis” describes mitochondrial Eve and Y-chromosome Adam, “Exodus” tells of the seafaring conquest of the Coasts in the face of Erecti resistance to Australia, the second truly human continent, “Race” addresses the major family groupings of man, “Language” applies genetic technology to recovering the time and place for the first human tongue, and “Evolution” recaps the book and looks forward to the next human species.

Nick Wade is a science columnist for the New York Times, and his journalist touch is fully worked. I learned more about the Thomas Jefferson- Sally Hemmings twist than I did before, including that Sally his the half-sister of Tom’s first wife. The unique haplotypes of Icelanders and Jews are discussed. and the interesting that the current races appear not to have existed 15,000 years ago give one much to chew on.

Before the Dawn is very up to date, and includes fair criticism of Evolutionary Psychology that comes from our increased understanding of genetics. When John Tooby and Leda Cosmides founded EP, it was reasonable to presuppose that substantive human evolution had ended by the late stone age. That assumption is no longer tenable. We are not modern humans with stone-aged minds. We are modern humans with modern minds.

This great book has already made a buzz. John Derbyshire of The National Review loves it, while Nature hates it.

Before the Dawn is available for $15.72 from Amazon.com, and for $19.96 from Barnes & Noble.